Friday, 30 September 2011

Internet skills and the digital divide

an article by Alexander van Deursen and Jan van Dijk (University of Twente, The Netherlands) published in new media & society Volume 13 Number 6 (September 2011)


Because of the growing amount of information on the Internet and people’s increasing dependence on information, Internet skills should be considered as a vital resource in contemporary society. This article focuses on the differential possession of Internet skills among the Dutch population. In two studies, an in-depth range of Internet skills are measured by charging subjects assignments to be accomplished on the Internet. Subjects were recruited by applying a random stratified sampling method over gender, age, and education. While the level of operational and formal Internet skills appeared quite high, the level of information and strategic Internet skills is questionable. Whereas education appeared an important contributor to all skill levels, age only appeared a significant contributor to operational and formal skills. The results strengthen the findings that the original digital divide of physical Internet access has evolved into a divide that includes differences in skills to use the Internet.

Convergence and disparities in regional Gross Domestic Product

Issue number 46/2011 via Eurostat Statistics in focus

Regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in purchasing power standards (PPS) per capita has been catching up significantly in many of the less prosperous regions of the EU since the year 2000. Early data from some Member States suggest that rural areas were less affected by the economic downturn in 2008 and 2009 than high-income regions and areas with a high dependence on exports, financial services or tourism. However, regional disparities are increasing inside new Member states.

The 8-page PDF contains a couple of maps of Europe which would be better viewed on a large screen – preferably through a projector.

Striking differences in annual leave across EU

Eurofound News September 2011

Substantial differences exist between EU Member States in terms of time off from work: when agreed annual leave and public holidays are added together, workers in Germany and Denmark have 40 days off per year. By contrast, workers in Romania have only 27 days; this difference equates to roughly two-and-a-half working weeks.

Eurofound’s recently published annual update on working time for 2010 looks at some key aspects of working time, including – in addition to annual leave and holidays
– collectively agreed working hours, statutory rules for the length of working weeks and days, and gender differences in working time. Across Europe, men work more hours in their paid job than do women. In the EU15, men work 2.3 hours more per week than their female counterparts and in the new Member States, 1.5 hours more. And in Estonia, Greece and Sweden, men work at least three hours more per week. The report also finds that, in nearly all Member States, Europeans work somewhat longer in reality than their average collectively agreed hours would indicate.
Read more in Working time developments - 2010

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Workers from foreign backgrounds face disadvantage

Eurofound News September 2011

People from another country or from another ethnic group can face disadvantage in the labour market. In some countries, nationals who have a foreign background, or who are from another ethnic group, are more likely to work part time, or hold only temporary employment contracts. In addition, in some countries, such workers are more likely to work in the evening, at night or at weekends. A recently published report from Eurofound looks at the employment and working conditions of nationals with a foreign background and those with a different ethnic affiliation. It concludes that in many Member States, much remains to be learned about tackling work-related discrimination.
Read more in the report

Young people’s experiences of personal advisors and the Connexions service

 an article by Kieron Sheehy, Rajni Kumrai and Martin Woodhead, (The Open University, Milton Keynes) published in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal Volume 30 Issue 3 (2011)


The paper aims to explore young people's experiences of having access to personal advisors (PAs), from Connexions, a support and guidance service.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted, in two phases, with young people in a large new town. Thematic analysis highlighted significant issues and suggested factors that might differentiate between those in employment, education and training and those not in this position.
Young people’s relationship with their Connexions PA emerged as a significant factor in mediating the extent to which they used the service as a “portal” to opportunities and resources. For some young people faced with complex and challenging circumstances, the relationship with their PA provided a uniquely stable and valued source of support.
Research limitations/implications
Although drawn from a small and focused sample, the results suggests that the large-scale cuts to the service, currently underway, could have a significant impact on young people in difficult circumstances.
Practical implications
The identity of the Connexions service creates issues of access for potential service users.
The research illustrates the positive impact that PAs can have in the complex and challenging situations which some young people encounter. It highlights the nature of the relationship developed with PA as a key issue in facilitating positive changes in the lives of young people. It also suggest that the categories of not in education, employment and training and education, employment and training are too simplistic as descriptors of the young peoples lives or the work undertaken with them by PAs.

Branding of UK public libraries

an article by Subnum Hariff (Bolton Central Library and Museum) and Jennifer Rowley, (Manchester Metropolitan University) published in Library Management Volume 32 Issue 4/5 (2011)


Evidence suggests that misconceptions and negative stereotypes of the image of public libraries still prevail today despite libraries diversifying and offering a range of services to their local community and contributing to key local and national priorities. The purpose of this paper is to report on a case study-based research project that sets out to explore how public libraries in the UK are using branding in order to create a more positive and effective image, as a basis for proposing the key factors that contribute to an effective public library branding strategy.
In total, three case study organisations were selected for the study, on the basis of their reputation for innovation in branding. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key staff associated with each of the three public libraries, in order to gather an understanding of the branding processes and strategies that they had adopted, and how they had negotiated some of the challenges in branding in the context of public libraries.
The three case study organizations bear testimony to the fact that branding can be successfully used to change brand image, and in turn, the perceptions of the library service amongst key stakeholders. The following factors are key to successful branding: clear positioning and identity, advocacy and influence, co-branding, staff buy-in, brand communication, evaluation, and national marketing campaigns.
This study offers insights into branding process and strategies in innovative public libraries, and on this basis develops recommendations to support information practitioners to develop a positive image of their service and to engage effectively with stakeholders in what are challenging times for public libraries.

Hazel’s comment:
This comment is, unusually, a very personal one. My local public library can rebrand itself as much as it wants to but until someone realises that the public transport changes made earlier this year make it more difficult for people with young children and/or mobility problems to get to the library the branding process will have little effect on numbers using the services.

The origins of new ways of working: Office concepts in the 1970s

 an article by Juriaan van Meel, (Centre for Facilities Management – Realdania Research, Technical University of Denmark) published in Facilities Volume 29 Issue 9/10 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to describe the origins of today’s new office concepts, focusing on the emergence of mobile and flexible working practices in the 1960s and 1970s. Thereby it intends to add a sense of historical awareness to the ongoing debate about the work environment.
The historical description is based on literature study, looking at research reports, design handbooks and depictions of office life in popular culture such as movies and advertisements.
The paper demonstrates that today’s “new ways of working” are by no means new. It shows that the concepts of mobile offices, paperless offices, videoconferencing and flexible workplaces all originate from the end of the 1960s and the early 1970s. It also shows that these concepts were far from mainstream, standing in stark contrast to the rigidity and conservatism of everyday office life at the time.
Research limitations/implications
This paper is the first result of a larger historical analysis of the recent history of the work environment. Further historical research will add to the presented insight in the evolution of office concepts.
Practical implications
The paper’s insight into the historical development of office concepts can help workplace strategists to make better, more careful forecasts of future workplace trends.
Whereas most literature on the office concept tends to look at novel ideas and future developments, this paper looks back at the recent past. It discusses early workplace experiments that have been largely ignored, or remained unidentified, in much of the discourse on new ways of working.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Aligning higher education with the world of work

 an article by Ruth Helyer (Teesside University, Middlesbrough) published in Higher Education, Skills and Work-based Learning Volume 1 Issue 2 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to examine UK higher level skills gaps. UK universities now have many students who were already learning at a higher level about, for, or through, their activities at work, and have decided to formalise this via a higher education (HE) programme; for these students learning mostly takes place away from the university and is sometimes categorised as “work-based”. Due to the increasingly flexible and hybrid profile of all contemporary students it is more realistic to align those undertaking work-based study with those choosing more traditional study routes, as all students need to enhance their workplace and life skills in order to better fit them for employment and life after university. There are blurred, not solid, boundaries between the differing kinds of students and between working and studying, and it is useful and productive to acknowledge this continuum.
A researched overview of relevant policy, data and literature including a research project into higher level skills gaps.
Practical implications
Employers cite the crucial nature of employability and subject-based skills and the need for employees who understand how to learn, and furthermore how to build upon and maximise the usefulness of what they learn by making connections and solving problems.
The paper shows how HE is shifting, due to demographics, an evolving world picture and a tough economic climate. Technological advances intensify globalisation causing rapid changes and greater competition for jobs and resources. The pressure on HE graduates is greater than ever before. The Government states that individuals require skills with a high economic value and to be prepared to undertake jobs in industries which do not exist yet; they must be changeable and adaptable to meet the challenges of the jobs market and willing to continuously develop themselves.

Secondary school librarians as heads of department in UK schools

 an article by Hannah L Brackenbury and Peter Willett (University of Sheffield) published in Library Management Volume 32 Issue 4/5 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to study the attitudes of UK head teachers and of librarians to the view that secondary school librarians should have the status of a head of department (HOD).
Questionnaires sent to 77 secondary schools in Cheshire, UK had response rates of 58 per cent from the librarians and of 49 per cent from the head teachers, with follow-up interviews being conducted with 15 of the librarians.
Most librarians were employed as support staff, although many of them were doing a HOD’s job; even when a librarian had this title, they did not often receive the recognition appropriate to such a role. Librarians were more likely to have HOD status in the independent schools sector than in the state-maintained sector, and there was some evidence that head teachers and librarians have different views as to what a librarian’s responsibilities should be.
There has been no previous study of this topic in the UK.

The transfer of training: what really matters

an article by Rebecca Grossman and Eduardo Salas (University of Central Florida, USA) published in International Journal of Training and Development Volume 15 Issue 2 (June 2011)


Although organizations invest billions of dollars in training every year, many trained competencies reportedly fail to transfer to the workplace. Researchers have long examined the ‘transfer problem’, uncovering a wealth of information regarding the transfer of training. Inconsistencies remain, however, and organizations may find it difficult to pinpoint exactly which factors are most critical. Using Baldwin and Ford’s model of transfer, we identify the factors relating to trainee characteristics (cognitive ability, self-efficacy, motivation, perceived utility of training), training design (behavioural modelling, error management, realistic training environments) and the work environment (transfer climate, support, opportunity to perform, follow-up) that have exhibited the strongest, most consistent relationships with the transfer of training. We describe our reasoning for extracting such variables from the literature and conclude by discussing potential implications for practice and future research.

Poverty: social control over our labor force

 an article by Anton Yanagisawa, (Pepperdine University, Malibu, California) published in International Journal of Social Economics Volume 38 Issue 4


The purpose of this paper is to raise concern and discussion about poverty. This paper explores the difficulties of defining poverty and its origins.
This paper utilizes research from psychological and sociological literature to analyse differing schools of thought regarding poverty. A macro-level perspective of poverty is defined and compared to a micro-level perspective of poverty. The lack of conformity concerning these opposing schools of thought often impedes the development of solutions for poverty.
What society believes to be true about poverty will influence how society treats poverty. Some solutions to poverty may only perpetuate the problems of the impoverished depending on how poverty is operationally defined and its origins understood. Literary research is used to support a hypothesis that poverty exists in function to society to insure a readily available, low wage, labour force.
Social implications
The provided information regarding the impact of poverty on society and the individual could aid in the development of government and corporate solutions. Solutions for poverty could be enhanced and employed more accurately by examining the viewpoint of this author.
This paper is of importance for mental health practitioners, corporations, and government branches interested in treating the social effects of poverty.

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Medical models, a couple of silly games and some thought-provoking items this time!

Cool medical models from Japan via Boing Boing by Mark Frauenfelder
201108091535When I travelled to Japan last summer on a family vacation, we stopped at one of my favourite places, a toy store called Kiddyland. I really liked the medical models for sale there. I asked Max Hodges about them, and he found a source for them and now sells them on his website, White Rabbit Express.
4D Vision Medical Models
Weird but completely fascinating – and not terribly expensive (except for the carriage from the US.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Women and wages. Fewer hours at an undemanding job for reduced pay: Welcome to the mommy track. Far from an unjust, patriarchal imposition, it’s where many women want to be...more

London Bridge: From Britain to Arizona, a Span of Anniversaries via Britannica Blog by Gregory McNamee
Travel the length of the Thames River, in southern England, and you will encounter more than 210 bridges, from Radcot Bridge in Oxfordshire, a medieval masterpiece of fitted stone spanning what is at that point a large stream, to the towering Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in Dartford, completed in 1991 and crossing a body of water now more than half a mile wide.
Travel a quarter of a turn of the planet, and there, in the austere Mojave Desert on the border of Arizona and California, you’ll find a bridge that began its working life 180 years ago in the heart of London – for which reason, fittingly, it bears the name London Bridge.
Read in full – with lots of links to other information

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Vodka – no color, no taste – made no sense to A.J. Liebling, a brown-spirits man. He had a point: It’s the chicken breast of libations...more

Rome Puzzle via the How-To Geek by Asian Angel
In this game you have a chance for greatness and the opportunity to visit Olympus as you work to build a new city in the bygone era of ancient Rome.
Play Rome Puzzle
Looks to me like yet another variation of Bejeweled (to which hubs is addicted).

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The politics of rescue. Michael Walzer has questions: Is humanitarianism a duty or a gift? A responsibility of states or individuals? Maimonides has answers...more

Despite Introspection, We Are Strangers to Ourselves via Big Think by Big Think Editors
There are many examples of people offering grossly incorrect analysis of common physical phenomena. Eye witnesses to crimes have notoriously fallible memories about who or what they saw; it is common for two people who experienced the same event to have different ... Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The emotional life of bees. The gentle curl of their mouths, the hesitant flicks of their antennae: Are bees sentient creatures?...more

5 More Free Action-Packed Shooter Games [Windows] via MakeUseOf by Tim Brookes
Gung-ho shooters, both first-person and third-person have been the bread-and-butter of a lot of gamers' diets for well over a decade now. The genres have been the driving force behind many advancements in graphics, physics and online play over the years, and now it seems there are more frantic shooters on the shelves than any other genre.
The only problem with shelves in shops is that you'll have reach for your wallet if you want to play – and here at MUO, we’d like to save you some money. To supplement our great free FPS article, here are 5 more top-notch shooters that won't cost you a penny.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The quest for truth requires a critical edge, sharpened by lies, hedges, and evasions. Truthfulness, says Julian Baggini, is largely a matter of deciding what to withhold...more

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Skill: the solution to low wage work?

an article by Caroline Lloyd (School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University and SKOPE Senior Research Fellow) and Ken Mayhew (University of Oxford and Director of SKOPE) published in Industrial Relations Journal Volume 41 Issue 5 (September 2011)


During the UK Labour government’s 13 years in power, raising skill levels was seen as the principal mechanism to improve the position of workers stuck in low wage jobs. This article draws together research undertaken in low wage sectors to question the assumptions that underlay Labour’s approach to low pay.

Hazel’s comment:
It is now obvious to many people that the raising of individual skill levels does not automatically raise individual income levels nor does the raising of skill levels in general have the large impact on GDP that we were told by the previous administration that it would.
An article worth reading in full if you can get hold of it through your institution.

Punishment is not a group adaptation …

Humans punish to restore fairness rather than to support group cooperation

an article by Nicolas Baumard published in Mind & Society Volume 10 Number 1 (2011)


Punitive behaviours are often assumed to be the result of an instinct for punishment. This instinct would have evolved to punish wrongdoers and it would be the evidence that cooperation has evolved by group selection. Here, I propose an alternative theory according to which punishment is a not an adaptation and that there was no specific selective pressure to inflict costs on wrongdoers in the ancestral environment. In this theory, cooperation evolved through partner choice for mutual advantage. In the ancestral environment, individuals were in competition to be recruited in cooperative ventures and it was vital to share the benefits of cooperation in a mutually advantageous manner. If individuals took a bigger share of the benefits, their partners would leave them for more interesting partners. If they took a smaller share, they would be exploited by their partners who would receive more than what they had contributed to produce. This competition led to the selection of a sense of fairness, a cognitive adaptation aiming to share equally the benefits of cooperation in order to attract partners. In this theory, punishment is not necessary for the evolution of cooperation. Punitive behaviours are only a way to restore fairness by compensating the victim or penalizing the culprit. Drawing on behavioural economics, legal anthropology, and cognitive psychology, I show that empirical data fit better with this framework than with the theory of group selection. When people punish, they do so to restore fairness rather than to help the group.

Hazel’s comment:
Really interesting arguments are put forward in this article. I’m no expert in any of the three disciplines mentioned in the abstract but found that I could understand fairness as opposed to retribution.

Forget teambuilding – data analysis will get you better results

 an article by Hilary Briggs (Chairman at Central London Group for the Academy of Chief Executives) published in Industrial and Commercial Training Volume 43 Issue 3


The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how delving into the data that measures business performance generates a detailed understanding of the issues that provides a platform for improved business results and teamwork in parallel.
An initial event, focused on improving client satisfaction, highlighted issues that were limiting it, such as processes, which were not able to deliver in line with expectations, and different departmental priorities. A detailed review of key business processes was undertaken department by department. Two areas were used as a pilot to test the approach – which involved initial interviews with key staff, data collection and analysis, followed by feedback and brainstorming with staff to develop and prioritise actions.
The key outcomes of the project were that using the data to generate a more detailed understanding of problems within the business processes led to increased staff engagement, increased focus on improving performance and specific cost savings, as well as identifying further potential savings.
The case study shows how staff can be involved with developing solutions to performance issues such as poor process reliability, thereby increasing their engagement, making a positive contribution to client satisfaction and reducing costs. It would be of particular benefit to HR directors and managers seeking ideas on how to increase the engagement and team performance of their people.

Strategy of Career Interventions for Battered Women

 an article by Joshua C Collins (Texas A&M University) published in Human Resource Development Volume 10 Number 3 (September 2011)


Female victims of domestic violence – also referred to as “battered women” – face serious career development challenges that necessitate the intervention and aid of human resource development (HRD) practice.The purpose of this article is to identify critical factors having an impact on the career development (CD) of battered women and to offer suggestions for how HRD practitioners may begin work to aid battered women in the development of their careers. This article is primarily concerned with career development interventions with battered women who also experience additional economic, educational, or networking hardships. Therefore, the findings of this article should not be considered inclusive of all female victims of domestic violence, but rather the start of an important conversation. The considerations in this article and the interventions suggested herein need testing and development, as do other methods of CD interventions with battered women. The expansion of HRD to include programs for those who have historically been minimized by systems of oppression should be considered a primary concern of current researchers and practitioners.

Hazel’s comment:
Encouraging battered women is wonderful, but so is encouraging anyone in a vulnerable position. It is, however, an ugly fact of life that the most vulnerable in society are much less likely to be employed and will, therefore, not benefit from HR intervention.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The adoption and diffusion of eLearning in UK universities: …

A comparative case study using Giddens’s Theory of Structuration

an article by Glenn Hardaker (University of Huddersfield Business School) and Gurmak Singh (University of Wolverhampton Business School) published in Campus-Wide Information Systems, Volume 28 Issue 4 (2011)


This exploratory study seeks to identifythe factors that influence the adoption and diffusion of instructional technology at five prominent universities in the UK. The study aims to examine the organisational factors that enable and inhibit organisational adoption and diffusion of innovation.
A qualitative exploratory case approach has been adopted to address the research question. In total, 36 semi-structured interviews were conducted at five universities in the UK. The five diverse approaches to adoption and diffusion of instructional technology were examined; top-down, integrated top-down, bottom-up, research-driven and project-driven approach.
For this research e-Learning is conceptualised as innovation situated in the interplay between structure and individual and how this leads to adoption and diffusion. The paper argues that senior management need to acknowledge the need to bridge the gap between “local context” and top-down strategic change. The findings suggest that there are tensions between “signification of meaning”, “power and dominance” and cultural norms in adoption and diffusion of e-Learning.
Research limitations/implications
The implications of the research are significant in understanding the diversity of approaches to the adoption and diffusion of e-learning. This provides insight for other universities in successfully managing the application of e-learning.
Giddens's structuration theory provided a sensitising framework for understanding the dialectical nature of adoption of e-Learning within five universities in the UK. The tensions between institutional structures, such as strategies, training, access to technology, technical support and time resources, and levels of adoption can be captured by dialectic of control in Giddens's Theory of Structuration.

A goat for Christmas: exploring third-party gifts

an article by Simon Kemp, Jessica Richardson and Christopher D.B. Burt, (Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) published in  Journal of Managerial Psychology Volume 26 Issue 6

Some charitable organisations market third-party gifts, in which some good, for example a goat, is given to a developing world beneficiary and at the same time is a present to a recipient in the developed world. Little is known about whether such gifts are successful as presents and whether these are a good charitable marketing device. This paper seeks to examine this issue.
Two studies investigated attitudes towards, and beliefs about, such gifts in possible and actual donors and recipients.
Third-party gifts often make acceptable presents, depending on the recipient and occasion. Gifts of specific goods are preferred to gifts of money, particularly when the benefit to the developing world beneficiary is considered. Such gifts also inspire a reasonable degree of trust.
Research limitations/implications
It is not clear how much benefit beneficiaries receive from third-party gifts or why donors prefer to give specific goods as gifts.
Practical implications
Third-party gifts appear to be a successful marketing tool and a means by which poverty can be reduced.
This research extends and combines previous research on gifting to the third-party gift-giving process and offers charities some insights into how they might use this process to facilitate donations.

Recent Developments in the Identification and Estimation of Production Functions of Skills

an article by Fl├ívio Cunha (University of Pennsylvania) published in Fiscal Studies: the journal of applied public economics Volume 32 Issue 2 (June 2011)


This paper summarises the literature on the estimation of production functions governing the process of skill formation. This literature focuses on attacking three problems. The first is the endogeneity of measures of investments. The second is the measurement error in skills and investments that are widely used in the literature. Endogeneity and measurement error produce, in general, inconsistent estimates. The third problem is the lack of a metric for tests designed to measure skills. The fact that scores have no cardinal meaning implies that the coefficients of the production function have no economic meaning. We show that anchoring test scores on outcomes that have a natural metric produces estimates that are economically interpretable.

Social tags for resource discovery: …

a comparison between machine learning and user-centric approaches

an article by Khasfariyati Razikin, Dion H. Goh, Alton Y. K. Chua and Chei Sian Lee (Nanyang Technological University, Singapore) published in Journal of Information Science Volume 37 Number 4 (August 2011)


The objective of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of tags in facilitating resource discovery through machine learning and user-centric approaches. Drawing our dataset from a popular social tagging system, Delicious, we conducted six text categorization experiments using the top 100 frequently occurring tags. We also conducted a human evaluation experiment to manually evaluate the relevance of some 2000 documents related to these tags. The results from the text categorization experiments suggest that not all tags are useful for content discovery regardless of the tag weighting schemes. Moreover, there were cases where the evaluators did not perform as well as the classifiers, especially when there was a lack of cues in the documents for them to ascertain the relationship with the tag assigned. This paper discusses three implications arising from the findings and suggests a number of directions for further research.

Hazel’s comment:
The continuing argument – man vs. machine. Well written and clearly presented article.

Policy in Action: Stories on the Workplace Accommodation Process

an article by Janikke Solstad Vedeler (Norwegian Social Research-NOVA, Oslo, Norway) and Naomi Schreuer (University of Haifa, Israel) published in Journal of Disability Policy Studies Volume 22 Number 2 (September 2011)


Workplace accommodation is an important measure to ensure equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Substantial research has investigated workplace accommodations in the United States. This article represents a first step in exploring the complexities of workplace accommodation from a cross-national perspective. Drawing on 29 qualitative interviews with employed Americans and Norwegians with mobility disabilities, we investigated similarities and differences in experiences with accommodation provision. Two main similarities emerged: Many of the American and Norwegian interviewees made use of accommodations, and the employer played an important role in the provision process in both countries. Concerning the particular role of the employer, two main differences emerged: American interviewees’ accounts of obstacles to a smooth accommodation process were related to the redistribution agent (i.e., the employer). In Norway, employers can either provide the accommodation themselves or make use of subsidized public services. When the employer chose to make use of public services, Norwegian interviewees reported a slow process and obstacles that were related to the recognition of eligibility, which rests on medical assessment. The article reveals a common vulnerability among people with disabilities when dependent on the recognition of their needs and effective provision of workplace accommodation to be competitive employees.

Routes onto Employment and Support Allowance

DWP Research Report 774 by Paul Sissons, Helen Barnes and Helen Stevens (Institute for Employment Studies) was published on 22 September 2011


Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) was introduced in October 2008 to replace Incapacity Benefit (IB) and Income Support (IS) received on the grounds of incapacity.
This report presents the findings from a two-wave survey of ESA claimants providing detailed information about the characteristics of claimants and their short-term employment trajectories over a period of around 18 months.
The research involved face-to-face interviews with a sample of 3,650 people who claimed ESA between April and June 2009, and follow-up telephone interviews with 1,842 participants who agreed to be contacted again.

Full report (PDF 94pp)

You can’t build a car with just one wheel …

 (why duplication may not be such a bad thing), and some limitations of Internet search/retrieval

an article by David Zeitlyn published in First Monday Volume 16 Number 9 (September 2011)


In this article I survey different approaches to the indexing of time based media (sound and video recordings) in response to two articles published in December 2010. Issues of overlap and duplication are discussed as a positive boon. They enable real comparison to be made and different styles may suit different categories of user. The lack of synoptic overview of different applications approaching the same topic is noted. Suggestions are made as to why search engines are not picking up on this. The failure leaves continuing role for human agents such as subject specialists and librarians to see the connections and make complete comparison lists of what is available for end-users.

Full Text: HTML

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The curse of inopportune transitions: …

The labour market behaviour of immigrants and natives in the UK

an article by Neli Demireva (University of Oxford) and Christel Kesler (University of Oxford and Barnard College, USA) published in International Journal of Comparative Sociology Volume 52 Number 4 (August 2011)


The article focuses on transitions between employment and not working among immigrants, the second generation and British-born Whites. We find evidence of lower stability in employment for New Commonwealth, Middle Eastern and Turkish immigrants. This penalization holds also for the second generation, especially in terms of exiting unemployment. On the other hand, no disadvantage is noted for labour immigrants from countries recently accessed to the EU such as Romanians and Bulgarians; or, if penalization is observed in the transition matrices, it disappears with controls for personal and labour market characteristics as is the case for EU8 and Eastern European immigrants. The continuous penalization of immigrants in Britain is confirmed; however, a dynamic perspective emphasizes that some immigrants, such as those from Eastern Europe, are less penalized than is observed in cross-sectional analyses.

Disabled people’s living standards: filling a policy vacuum

an article by D.P. Doessel (Griffith University, Australia), Ruth F.G. Williams, (Griffith University, Australia and Latrobe University, Australia) published in International Journal of Social Economics Volume 38 Issue 4 (2011)


Government policy can alleviate inequities in living standards. Disabled people often qualify for government assistance which is one way that their living standard can improve, although arbitrary systems for distributing assistance are not likely to serve equity objectives. The purpose of this paper is to indicate the key variables to which government should direct attention, in order to alleviate both horizontal and vertical inequity in grants to disabled people.
There is no literature, either theoretical or empirical, that specifically addresses this problem. This paper invokes important economic concepts associated with the nineteenth century English philosopher/economist, John Stuart Mill, as well as the 1998 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Amartya Sen. Mill’s general conception of how government should behave in treating citizens was elaborated subsequently in the public finance literature on principles of taxation. These notions are about “the equal treatment of equals” and “the unequal treatment of unequals”. Sen’s recent discussion of the “conversion handicap” from his general framework of capabilities is highly relevant to the question addressed here.
These concepts, applied with some analytical tools of algebra and geometry, show that Mill’s principles can combine with Sen’s into a relevant conceptual framework. The central principles and concepts for policy formation on the standard of living for disabled people are not random; they can be specified with clarity.
This paper contributes the relevant conceptual “yardsticks” by which policy for distributing assistance to disabled people can be evaluated. Steps, towards devising better approaches to the distribution of assistance to disabled people can now be taken.

Work out or out of work …

The labor market return to physical fitness and leisure sports activities

an article by Dan-Olof Rooth (Linnaeus University, Sweden; Lund University, Sweden; IZA, Germany and CReAM, United Kingdom) published in Labour Economics Volume 18 Issue 3 (June 2011)


This study is the first to present evidence of the return to leisure sports in the job hiring process by sending fictitious applications to real job openings in the Swedish labour market. In the field experiment job applicants were randomly given different information about their type and level of leisure sports. Applicants who signalled sports skills had a significantly higher callback rate of about 2 percentage points, and this effect was about twice as large for physically demanding occupations.
Additional evidence of a sports premium in the regular labour market is arrived at when analysing the long-run impact of physical fitness on later labour market outcomes. The analysis uses register data on adult earnings and physical fitness when enlisting at age 18. The fitness premium, net of unobservable family variables, is in the order of 4–5%, but diminishes to 2% when controlling for non-cognitive skills.

Hazel’s comment:
Rule number one (thou shalt not read more of an article than is necessary to decide whether or not to blog about it) got broken on this one! Following on from the headlines in national media in the UK which say that more attractive people get better jobs now there’s this which says that the fitter you are the more likely it is that you will get hired.

Computer self-efficacy in the information society: …

Design of learning strategies, mechanisms and skill areas

an article by Pernilla Gripenberg (Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki) published in Information Technology & People Volume 24 Issue 3 (2011)


IT related skills are vital for becoming and remaining a citizen in a digitally supported information society – also for adults who are no longer in school; do not use IT in their work; are unemployed, self-employed, or retired; or otherwise without the technical support, possibilities for training, and availability of a community of practice and “master users” that are common in organizational contexts. The paper aims to draw on literature on learning IT skills in the organizational context and to apply this in a non-organizational, community context. The paper seeks to explore how individual IT-skill and knowledge development could be supported using formal and informal learning strategies, including community services, training courses, information events, learning community and other learning mechanisms.
The paper is empirically grounded in a research and development project with 50 participating families who received a PC, printer, and Internet connection, as well as training, technical support, and information events over a period of two years. Both qualitative and quantitative data were gathered throughout the project. Data are here analysed as an extensive case study.
Based on experiences from the project the paper describes how “digital literacies” could be learned and supported and inclusion in the digital information society enhanced in practice. The paper develops a framework that shows how different learning strategies and mechanisms support different kinds of computer knowledge and skill areas; describes three interlinked areas of IT knowledge and skills; and suggests a number of practical implications on how computer self-efficacy could be supported in a non-organisational context.
The paper draws on extant knowledge about learning and developing IT-skills in the organisational context, and applies this knowledge in a different context in order to explore how this knowledge can be used also outside organisations to support adults to be part of the digitally supported information society.

Misreading the statistics

Gifted Lives: what happens when gifted children grow up,a recent publication from Professor Joan Freeman, was reviewed on the website

According to new research, children labelled as gifted in early life are no more likely to succeed as adults. In fact, Prof. Joan Freeman, who studied the adult careers of 210 child prodigies for her book Gifted Lives: What Happens When Gifted Children Grow Up, has found that only six of those studied became incredibly successful in later life: Gifted children are just as likely to fail as adults.

Oh no she did not study 210 child prodigies!

The professor studied 70 children labelled as gifted through membership of the National Association for Gifted Children, 70 children from the same school class with near identical academic ability who had not been so labelled and 70 children, again from the same school class, chosen at random to allow for similar social backgrounds.

And if I hadn't read the professor’s own article in Education Today (Volume 61 Number 2 (Summer 2011)) (which I can't find anywhere online) I would have believed the reviews of her book.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Radicalizing Learning: Adult Education for a Just World

I read a review of this book by Stephen D Brookfield and John D Holst in the Journal of European Industrial Training Volume 35 Issue 6 (2011) and was impressed.

I can't find the review by Tara Fenwick (University of Stirling) freely available online but I have found one in goodreads which, whilst not as detailed, will give you a reasonable idea about this book.

The graduate job search process…

a lesson in persistence rather than good career management

an article by Tui McKeown and Margaret Lindorff (Monash University, Clayton, Australia) published in Education + Training Volume 53 Issue 4 (2011)


The paper seeks to provide perspectives on the job search expectations and job seeking strategies of Australian graduates, including their perceptions of University Careers Centres (UCCs).
A total of 45 new graduates and representatives of five UCCs were interviewed.
Both Australian graduates and UCCs are aware of the misalignment between graduates’ high expectations and job search realities, but currently do little to proactively redress it. The study also found major inconsistencies between the viewpoints of graduates and UCCs regarding the usefulness of UCCs, as not only did most graduates not use these services, they were often completely unaware of them. This suggests that many graduates find employment based on learning through adversity and persistence rather than good career management.
Research limitations/implications
The research interviewed a small number of new graduates across many disciplines. Focused interviews from more students in specific discipline areas would be useful.
Practical implications
UCCs should develop strategies for engaging students in the career seeking process early in their studies, and promote the availability and utility of their services. In addition, strategies should be developed to increase students’ awareness of the realities of job and career seeking, and to develop their resilience in this area.
The paper increases understanding of student experiences when job seeking, which can be used by universities and UCCs to better prepare students for, and support students during, this process.

Hazel’s comment:
So here we have research that replicates findings in the UK – students in HEIs are not aware of the services of their institution’s careers advisory service or, if they are, are not using these services to the fullest extent.
Unfortunately, I can’t actually find the evidence for what I’ve just said so maybe you should:
a) disregard it, or
b) provide the reference in the comments.

Relationships Among Career and Life Stress, Negative Career Thoughts, …

and Career Decision State: A Cognitive Information Processing Perspective

an article by Emily Bullock-Yowell (University of Southern Mississippi), Gary W Peterson and Robert C Reardon, (Florida State University), Stephen J Leierer, (University of Memphis) and Corey A Reed (James Madison University) published in The Career Development Quarterly Volume 59 Number 4 (June 2011)


According to cognitive information processing theory, career thoughts mediate the relationship between career and life stress and the ensuing career decision state. Using a sample of 232 college students and structural equation modeling, this study found that an increase in career and life stress was associated with an increase in negative career thinking and that an increase in such thoughts was associated with a lower level of decidedness and satisfaction with career choice. However, when the variation associated with negative career thoughts was partitioned in the mediated causal model, career and life stress became associated with less career indecision and dissatisfaction with career choice. The results suggest that counselors attend to negative career thoughts when individuals encounter career and life stress.

Full text is available on

Developing learning landscapes: …

academic libraries driving organisational change
an article by Leo Appleton and Valerie Stevenson (Liverpool John Moores University) and Debbi Boden (Glasgow Caledonian University) published in Reference Services Review Volume 39 Issue 3


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the reasons and drivers for academic libraries affecting university strategy with regards to shaping and developing learning spaces in response to changing pedagogic behaviours.
A review of available literature within the context of academic libraries and their position to influence and lead institutional strategic change. This theory and practice is addressed and evidenced by four case studies of university libraries in the UK.
Many UK academic libraries find themselves able to lead on and influence their institution’s strategic direction with regards to teaching, learning and research. This is particularly the case in the design and development of learning spaces within the university. Academic libraries are in a unique position within a university with a view to observing student behaviours, being responsive to ever changing demands from academics and students, spotting trends and benchmarking against comparative institutions. These practices make it possible for academic libraries to advise, guide and lead on teaching and learning strategy and lead on learning spaces developments within their institutions.
Practical implications
Academic libraries can use existing quality assurance, responsiveness and benchmarking frameworks to influence university strategy and decision making.
This paper focuses on the concept of academic libraries influencing change, rather than responding to change, within their university. The case studies provide examples of where this has been the case, and suggest ways and frameworks which can be adopted by other academic libraries.

Understanding Uncertainty in School League Tables

an article by George Leckie and Harvey Goldstein (University of Bristol) published in Fiscal Studies: the journal of applied public economics Volume 32 Issue 2 (June 2011)


In England, contextual value added (CVA) school performance tables are published annually by the government. These tables present statistical-model-based estimates of the educational effectiveness of schools, together with 95 per cent confidence intervals to communicate their statistical uncertainty. However, this information, particularly the notion of statistical uncertainty, is hard for users to understand. There is a real need to make school performance tables clearer. The media attempt to do this for the public by ranking schools in so-called ‘school league tables’; however, they invariably discard the 95 per cent confidence intervals and, in doing so, encourage the public to over-interpret differences in schools’ ranks. In this paper, we explore a simulation method to produce simple graphical summaries of schools’ ranks that clearly communicate their associated uncertainty.

The Effectiveness of English Secondary Schools for Pupils of Different Ability Levels

an article by Lorraine Dearden, John Micklewright and Anna Vignoles (Institute of Education, University of London) published in Fiscal Studies Special Issue on Schools, Markets and League Tables Volume 32 Issue 2 (June 2011)


‘League table’ information on school effectiveness in England generally relies either on a comparison of the average outcomes of pupils by school (for example, mean exam scores) or on estimates of the average value added by each school. These approaches assume that the information parents and policymakers need most to judge school effectiveness is the average achievement level or gain in a particular school. Yet schools can be differentially effective for children with differing levels of prior attainment. We present evidence on the extent of differential effectiveness in English secondary schools and find that even the most conservative estimate suggests that around one-quarter of schools in England are differentially effective for students of differing prior ability levels. This affects an even larger proportion of children, as larger schools are more likely to be differentially effective.

I doubt this will be another nail in the coffin of league tables but I could hope!

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Smithsonian inventors quiz via Boing Boing by Maggie Koerth-Baker
Fun trivia game at the Smithsonian website
Given a list of inventions, how many of the inventors can you name in 6 minutes.
Cheat if you must, but know that every time you do, you make an adorable baby alpaca cry.
WORD OF WARNING: DO NOT, under any circumstances, click on the “more games” link if you value a) your sanity and/or b) your time!

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Genocide, terrorism, insurgencies: The world feels like an ever more violent place. It isn't in fact, war is on the wane. And where it still occurs, it’s less… more

Virtual pets starve after bungled resolution to Second Life’s “unauthorized food” war via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
Wagner James Au sez, “Meeroos, an extremely popular species of virtual, breedable animal in Second Life, are now starving, because griefers have been selling their owners unauthorized food, and Linden Lab accidentally shut them down *and* their legitimate food supplier.”
Read it all
And, of course, visit the official Meeroo website

Are wind farms pushing the planet out of orbit? via Lighter Footstep by Shea Gunther
The Onion pre-empted the coal lobby with this brilliant spoof ad accusing wind farms of pushing the earth off of its orbit.
Check out Onion News

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
For the swaggering titans of mid-20th-century literature, violence was their muse. Then Joseph Heller dismantled their greatest subject...more

London Trams c.1950s via HOW TO BE A RETRONAUT by Chris

Pictures include:
  • Westminster Bridge
  • Addington Street
  • Addington Street 2
  • Beresford Road
  • Beresford Square
  • Charing Cross Embankment
  • Charing Cross Railway Bridge
  • Eltham Green
  • Greenwich High Road
  • Highgate
  • Holloway Road
  • Lambeth Palace Road (seen above because I thought I’d include the one with a Routemaster in it)
  • New Cross Road
  • Plumstead High Street
  • Southwark Bridge
  • Woolwich High Road
  • Woolwich New Road
  • A6
  • Tram interior, Westminster
  • Charlton (I wonder what happened to the tram depot.)
Access the rest of the photos here
Be aware, as always with these photo-heavy files, that this post may take a while to load.

The True Marvels of Engineering (and Techno-Gibberish) via the How-To Geek by Asian Angel
If you think you are up to date on your techno-gibberish, then get ready for a whole new level with this video [link below]. The narrator did this warm-up presentation on the first take and kept a straight face while doing it. Even better, play this for your friends and watch their eyes quickly glaze over.
[via Geeks are Sexy]
watch the video (warning: it’s not new so you may have seen it before)

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Back-of-the-envelope calculation: Over the past 10,000 years, humans have created 10,000 religions and 1,000 gods. Why?...more

How good was your start in life? via Mr Bojangles by Tom Ilube
Many years ago when I was a lazy good-for-nothing teenager whose top priority was seeking out the next bottle of beer and the odd cheeky cigarette, my father, in a fit of annoyance or possibly just stating an indisputable fact, said ‘if I had your start in life the sky would have been the limit’.
Read in full and understand your own SILI (Start In Life Index) position.

Pistol hidden in a Zippo case via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
This tiny pistol hidden in a Zippo lighter case sold at auction in 2006 for $6,810.00 to an unknown bidder. It fired 6MM cartridges tooled to fit in a standard Ronson flint case.
*Rare "Zippo" Lighter Gun Together with Ronson Flint Dispenser with Ammunition (via Neatorama)

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Constructions of Social Exclusion Among Young People From Interface Areas of Northern Ireland

 an article by Owen Hargie and Aodheen O’Donnell (University of Ulster, Jordanstown) and Christel McMullan (Queen’s University, Belfast) published in Youth & Society Volume 43 Number 3 (September 2011)


The concept of social exclusion has attracted considerable interest and debate over the past 20 years. It is a multifaceted concept, which has been delineated in a variety of ways by different theorists. This article explores the main defining features of social exclusion, and proceeds to investigate the extent to which these are manifested in practice, in relation to the lived experiences of young people from deprived interface areas of Belfast. These young people are at the cutting edge of the divisions that have blighted Northern Ireland society. This qualitative study used interviews, firstly to ascertain the views of the young people themselves, and, secondly, to gauge the perceptions of community group leaders, training providers and employers who deal closely with them. Marked differences were found between the young people and the adult groups in relation to the social construction of exclusion and its impact on the young people.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Stewardship: a new vision for the purpose of business

and article by Gary L Karns (Seattle Pacific University) published in Corporate Governance Volume 11 Issue 4 (2011)


A new vision for the purpose of business is vitally and urgently needed for emerging and developed markets to replace the shareholder wealth maximization paradigm that has contributed to contemporary ethics scandals, creating a credibility and trust crisis for business. In response, this paper seeks to present the stewardship model, a new, humane, and sustainable vision for the role of business as a contributor to human flourishing.
This conceptual paper builds on the thinking of those who have championed various reformulated paradigms in pursuit of responsible business behaviour.
The centre of economic gravity is shifting towards emerging markets. During this time of transition there is both a window of opportunity and an urgent need to change the social contract with business to achieve human flourishing, a more desirable goal than mere economic growth. Efforts to promote virtuous personal and corporate behaviour need the mutually reinforcing element of a new business paradigm. The stewardship model casts business in the role of being a responsible steward contributing to the well-being of customers, employees and the community; acting with positive ethics; and partnering with other social institutions for the common good.
Practical implications
Business people and business educators should give the Stewardship Model serious consideration.
The paper offers a new paradigm for business that aligns with human flourishing and fits the emerging market context. Adopting this new vision will help to re-write the social contract under which business operates and to rebuild business credibility and trust in emerging and in developed markets.

Social enterprise: …

evaluation of an enterprise skills programme
 an article by Simon Denny, Richard Hazenberg, Wray Irwin and Fred Seddon (The University of Northampton) published in Social Enterprise Journal Volume 7 Issue 2 (2011)


Evaluation of employment skills programmes (ESP) delivered by work integration social enterprises (WISEs) for the benefit of young people not in employment, education or training (NEET) is often undertaken by the programme providers. This method of evaluation often lacks objectivity and academic rigour and tends to focus exclusively on output. The purpose of this paper is to reveal programme outcome benefits for NEET participants after completing a six-week ESP, delivered by a WISE. The study highlights the participant perspective and adds an objective dimension to programme evaluation through an innovative, inductive evaluation process.
The research adopted an intervention method, within a qualitative paradigm, employing semi-structured interviews conducted pre- and post-participant engagement in the ESP. NEET participants were also asked to complete questionnaires designed to measure general self-efficacy and attitude to enterprise. The questionnaires were introduced in order to test the suitability of this type of questionnaire with NEET groups in future larger-scale studies.
Analysis of the interview data revealed ten overall participant perception themes: “experience”, “self-confidence”, “the programme”, “perceived barriers” and “maturity” at Time 1 and “experience”, “self-confidence”, “the programme”, “enterprise” and “future” at Time 2. Outcome benefits are demonstrated through differences in participant perception themes revealed at Time 1 and Time 2. Relationships between participant perception themes and questionnaire constructs are discussed in the context of future larger-scale evaluations.
Adopting an intervention method employing semi-structured interviews, allowed the participants to articulate the outcome benefits that were important for them rather than merely providing affirmation of the programme provider’s expectations.

Hazel’s comment:
I've always been wary of self evaluation, particularly if funding is dependent on results. It is simply too easy to cheat, often without the programme director being aware that cheating is happening.
This is not, in my experience (I was a programme assessor for the Youth Training Scheme), a matter of fraud, although that did happen in some places, but of self delusion.
External validation is necessary to address both issues.

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Renault: the car for men who don’t worry about their penises via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
This 1970 Renault ad attempts to entice customers who don’t worry if their car makes them feel inadequate in the penis department. I’m inordinately fond of the phrase “fancy-price fantasy wagon,” I must say.
Renault (1970)

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Getting old takes getting used to – loss of appetite, constant urinating – but Jerry Lewis is adjusting. “I keep my fly open all day”...more

Authors, critics, and editors on “great books” that aren't all that great.
This item from Slate was quoted in a number of different blogs.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Brandishing scads of data, Robert Pape argues that suicide terrorism is not motivated by Islam. But what’s motivating Pape?...more

Information Wants to Be Expensive via Big Think by Dominic Basulto
Stewart Brand’s famous maxim, “Information Wants to be Free”, has been, for more than 25 years, one of the most popular rallying cries of the Digital Age. These words have been famously twisted, adapted and re-interpreted to mean, “Everything on the Internet should be free”. Little remembered ... Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
He was among the greatest talkers of his - or any - time, but Oscar Wilde meticulously revised his written prose, never quite sure how subversive he wanted to be...more

WARNING: If you don’t “do cute” then this definitely not for you.
Rescued seal pup released back to the sea via Lighter Footstep by Shea Gunther
Peewee the Northern Fur Seal is lucky he found his way to the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia. When he first was brought in he was starving and sick. When they shot this video (see link below) of him being released, he was a healthy pup who couldn't be happier to see the ocean.
Watch video

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
In 1725, a feral boy stumbled out of the woods and posed a challenge to Europe’s secular intelligentsia: What separates man from animals?...more

How “Try a Little Tenderness” went from forgettable love-song to soulful classic via Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow
On The Awl, an engrossing musical history of “Try a Little Tenderness”, which started life in 1932 as a schmaltzy, vacuous love-song recorded by Ray Noble and his Orchestra. Gradually, over the decades, new singers reinterpreted it, gradually giving it soul in dribs and drabs, leading up to the classic Otis Redding recording (and the regrettable Jay-Z reinterpretation).
Read it all

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
St. Augustine’s eccentricities were said to be the result of “a mind steeped too long in too few books”. Of whom can that be said today?...more

Monday, 19 September 2011

Is the glass ceiling cracked in information technology? …

A qualitative analysis: part 1

an article by Steven H Appelbaum and Kamal Argheyd (Concordia University, Montreal) and Neveen Asham (Technology Consultant in Montreal, Canada) published in Industrial and Commercial Training Volume 43 Issue 6 (2011)


The purpose of this research is to qualitatively investigate, through a literature review of past studies and an in-field case study, three different hypotheses regarding women working in the IT sector and their career and promotional aspirations.
An online survey was used for data collection from female employees with varying professional specializations across several IT departments within the company. Questions for the survey were designed from the findings of the literature review.
The results obtained have proven that married women who are intrinsically inspired to maintain their work-family balance face higher stress and more conflicts than those who do not. In addition, the glass ceiling was still evident in today’s corporations, but mainly affecting the older generation of women professionals. Also, the results slightly hinted at a ten-year cut-off period, after which promotional aspiration is lost.
Research limitations/implications
Owing to the limitations of the research conducted, further qualitative studies can be done to compare careers and promotional patterns between men and women in the IT departments, as well as those between women in IT departments and women working in other departments.
Practical implications
Employers should strive to provide their female employees with practical solutions to allow for an easier balancing of work-family responsibilities, such as flexi-time and telecommuting. At the same time, the employers should place the female employees in more opportunity-enhancing positions within the corporation so that they can exploit or utilize their talents and increase the probability of climbing up the corporate ladder.
With a generous response rate, this paper provides a realistic perspective of professional females working within the IT domain with regard to their career and promotional aspirations.

Career History and Motivations for Choosing LIS: …

a case study at Aberystwyth University
an article by Dr Anoush Simon and Marianne Taylor (Aberystwyth University) published in Library Review Volume 60 Issue 9 (2011)


This paper reports on an ongoing project investigating Library and Information Science (LIS) students’ perceptions of the library and information profession and their motivations for undertaking a degree in this field. The analysis presented here focuses on students’ reasons for becoming involved in information work, and their motivations for embarking on a professional qualification. Design/methodology/approach
The research was focused on students enrolling on Information and Library Studies programmes in the Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University. Students from both undergraduate and postgraduates courses are represented over the period 2005-2010, undertaking campus-based and distance learning programmes. A qualitative approach, using focus groups, was taken towards data collection and analysis.
Many students followed a circuitous path into the library and information field, indicating that we should be cautious about assumptions made regarding “typical” library and information workers. Similarly, motivations for attaining a qualification are a complexity of both personal and professional aspirations. Although motivations remain consistent in line with previous studies, it is argued that “either/or” attitudes to traditional and modern aspects of information work are being replaced by a flexible understanding of the modern profession.
Builds on and adds new perspectives to literature on student motivations and career aspirations. The groups studied are eclectic, including postgraduate and undergraduate, full time and distance learning cohorts across a range of age groups.

Through lifelong learning and learning organisations towards sustainable future

an article by Renata Cepic and Jasna Krstovic published in International Journal of Innovation and Learning Volume 10 Number 2 (2011)


The objective of this paper is to investigate and analyse characteristics of constant changes higher education institutions are faced with in their operation and the concept of the learning organisation as an adequate response to changes covering the area of higher education. The paper finds that lifelong learning and becoming the learning organisation are the key factors in the process of implementing many changes these institutions need to undertake in order to fit into contemporary developments successfully. The findings reflect the way adequately to answer actual requests posed to higher education institutions, particularly the empowerment of their partnership with economy.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Culturomics 2.0: …

Forecasting large-scale human behavior using global news media tone in time and space

an article by Kalev Leetaru published in First Monday Volume 16 Number 9 (September 2011)


News is increasingly being produced and consumed online, supplanting print and broadcast to represent nearly half of the news monitored across the world today by Western intelligence agencies. Recent literature has suggested that computational analysis of large text archives can yield novel insights to the functioning of society, including predicting future economic events. Applying tone and geographic analysis to a 30–year worldwide news archive, global news tone is found to have forecast the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, including the removal of Egyptian President Mubarak, predicted the stability of Saudi Arabia (at least through May 2011), estimated Osama Bin Laden’s likely hiding place as a 200–kilometer radius in Northern Pakistan that includes Abbotabad, and offered a new look at the world’s cultural affiliations. Along the way, common assertions about the news, such as “news is becoming more negative” and “American news portrays a U.S.-centric view of the world” are found to have merit.

Full Text: HTML

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Donate via Twitter

Twitter users can now donate to charity via JustGiving using a new app called To donate, users need to mention the charity in a Tweet with the amount they wish to give and the hashtag #giv2. Within five minutes will then send the user a link to the charity’s JustGiving page [assuming that it has one], pre-populated with their donation, ready for them to enter their card details to donate.

Thanks to lasa’s ICT E-Bulletin (August 2011)

Ladders, samurai, and blue collars: Personal branding in Web 2.0

an article by Robert W. Gehl published in First Monday Volume 16 Number 9 (September 2011)


Drawing on the work of Gilles Deleuze, Eva Illouz, and Mark Andrejevic, this paper critiques the personal branding literature, particularly as it applies to Web 2.0 social media. I first describe the three-part logic of personal branding: dividuation, emotional capitalism, and autosurveillance. Next, in a sort of mirror image to the self-help literature of personal branding, I offer a critical “how to” guide to branding oneself in Web 2.0. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of why personal branding can be seen as a rational choice, given the circumstances of globalised capitalism and precarious employment. Individuals who brand themselves wilfully adopt the logic of capitalism in order to build their human capital. However, I ultimately argue that the obsession with personal branding is no antidote for life in precarious times.

Full Text: HTML

Hazel’s comment:
If read in a certain way then you could use this as the basis for your argument not to do any personal branding – and those who hate even thinking about the idea will be saved fore ever.

The Lived Experience of Work and Career: …

Women Whose Parents Lack Postsecondary Education
an article by MM Gibbons, M Woodside, C Hannon, JR Sweeney and J Davison published in The Career Development Quarterly Volume 59 Number 4

Abstract (summary)
There is a dearth of research exploring the career and work development of adults and the influence of family of origin on that development. In this qualitative study, the authors used a phenomenological approach to examine the career and work experiences of women whose parents have no education beyond high school and the influences of family on these experiences. Findings revealed 5 invariant themes, or constituents, that shaped the experiences of these women: being a daughter/woman, support and encouragement, what matters, why I chose, and limits and options. Perseverance was found to be a related underlying component, or essence. Authors present implications for counsellors working with adult women whose parents lack postsecondary education.

Hazel’s comment:
I read this article on ProQuest in the British Library, thought that the ideas presented were interesting and emailed the link, as I thought, to myself so that I could put the abstract into a blog post. 
Now with Emerald, informaworld and Elsevier's ScienceDirect databases you get what you think you’re going to get – and email which says “here’s a link that Hazel thought you would be interested in”; with ProQuest I got the whole article in the body of the email. I obviously can’t include it here (space reasons even if I ignore copyright law) but I thought it odd.

10 non-work-related items that I found fun or interesting

Tattoo hope in patient monitoring via BBC News – Technology on 11/08/11
An “electronic tattoo” could herald a revolution in medicine and even computer gaming, say US scientists. Read more.

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Founded in 1857 to advance the “American idea”, the Atlantic Monthly was an odd intellectual home for Henry James, a peripatetic expat who renounced his U.S. citizenship...more

The Hungary problem from Boston Review via 3quarksdaily by Morgan Meis
How is it that Hungary, Central Europe's democratic wunderkind of 1989, could find itself the European Union’s problem child two decades later, with a nationalist strongman at the helm, the economy in shambles, and a ferocious far right both in its parliament and in black uniforms patrolling its suburbs?
Find out here

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
By the end of the 19th century, torture was “as extinct as cannibalism”. Then it came back. What happened? Guerrilla warfare...more
This is not pleasant reading.

Human Reasoning Is a Mixed Blessing via Big Think by Big Think Editors
When given a logic puzzle, individuals are more apt to arrive at the wrong answer than if they are working in a group of people. History abounds with examples: Newton dedicated himself as much to alchemy as he did to developing his physical laws; Napoleon's decision ... Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
There is a place for mystery in science, but Stephen Law wants to make something clear: Non-empirical beliefs that ignore reality aren’t mysteries, they’re bullshit ...more

How the Brain Categorizes Objects via Big Think by Big Think Editors
A study published in the 27 July issue of the journal Neuron summarises research performed on monkeys trained to assign patterns of dots into one of two categories. As the monkeys began to pick up on general traits belonging to each category, “brain activity shifted ...” Read More

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
Umberto Eco is fascinated by fallibility. His vast personal library includes the works of the errant Ptolemy, not the accurate Galileo...more

Designing and evaluating UbiBall: a ubiquitous computing game for children
an article by Douglas Easterly and Angela Blachnitzky in International Journal of Arts and Technology (Volume 4 Number 3 (2011))
This paper provides an overview of a recent project called UbiBall – a ubiquitous exergame game developed by researchers at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. We survey the emerging field of exergaming, cover the design goals and processes and summarise the results obtained from our initial user testing. UbiBall features a ubiquitous computing ball outfitted with a microcontroller. The microcontroller emits sound and light in accordance with the various ways it is interacted with. It also data logs the play activity to a file, which then acts as a bridge between two modes of gameplay, one that is physical and active, and another that is a screen-based game. Ultimately, the game provided a fun and particularly active example of mobile exergaming for the children participants who tested the system.
Ever curious I had to go and look up exergaming in general and UbiBall in particular.
Wikipedia not only tells us that exergaming is a portmanteau of exercise and gaming (we could have guessed that bit) but tracks the history of the genre from as long ago as the late 80s (which I did not know).

via Arts and Letters Daily – ideas, criticism, debate
The elimination of poverty ought to be within our grasp, and yet for hundreds of millions of people over the globe, it remains but a dream. Why can't the world's wealth be shared?...more

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Translating Facts Into Knowledge

 an article by Soraya Umewaka published in Mind, Brain, and Education Volume 5 Issue 1 (March 2011)


Many education systems have a tendency to be limiting and rigid. These systems teach children to value facts over knowledge and routine and repetition over playfulness and curiosity to seek knowledge. How can we unleash our children's imagination and permit them to use play and other creative tools as a means of learning? This article proposes new ways to tackle this old problem.

Hazel’s comment:
I  tried, really tried, to find a copy of the full article which would not require you to part with money and I have finally succeeded.
Read it here. (HTML)

Opting In Between …

Strategies Used by Professional Women With Children to Balance Work and Family

an article by Elisa J Grant-Vallone (California State University San Marcos) and Ellen A Ensher (Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles) published in Journal of Career Development Volume 38 Number 4 (August 2011)


Professional women with children are inundated with conflicting messages about how to manage their careers and personal lives and whether they should “opt in” or “opt out” of the workforce. Using in-depth interviews with 23 professional women, this study focused on the career choices that women make after having children. The authors found that many mothers neither opt in nor opt out but successfully function in between these two choices, or opt “in between”, by working flexible hours, by working part-time, and/or by being involved with home-based entrepreneurial endeavours. Using the boundaryless career typology of knowing why, knowing how, and knowing whom, the authors summarise the key strategies that mothers use to opt in between. The interviewees were clear about why they were working, managed their careers by finding the right organisational fit, did not focus on guilt or perfectionism, and maintained excellent networks of friends, bosses, colleagues, and day care providers

Hazel’s comment:
The researchers must have found 23 exceptional women!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Job involvement in a career transition from university to employment

an article by Angel Blancha (University of Lleida, Spain) and Anton Alujaa (Institute of Biomedical Research, Spain) published in Learning and Individual Differences Volume 20 Issue 3 (June 2011)


Job involvement–alienation was studied over three time points with a sample of undergraduate engineers undergoing a career transition from university to paid employment. Data from Newton and Keenan (1991) were re-analysed under a latent growth curve modelling (LGCM) perspective, in order to provide an alternative analysis of the development of job involvement across that situational change, and to test the hypothesis that job involvement actually changed over that time period. University course satisfaction and anxiety were included as time-invariant predictors of growth, and compared to ascertain whether there would be differential effects of both predictors. The results supported the hypothesised relationships, indicating a significant growth in job involvement–alienation over time, with course satisfaction and course anxiety showing an equivalent impact on its change trajectory.

I don't pretend to understand all the mathematics and statistical analyses involved – I left most of that behind me 30+ years ago and I don’t remember ever having learned about “latent growth curve modelling”. Despite that I found that the results and discussion made sense.

More Coffee, Less Crime? …

The Relationship between Gentrification and Neighborhood Crime Rates in Chicago, 1991 to 2005

an article by Andrew V Papachristos, Chris M Smith, Mary L Scherer and Melissa A Fugiero published in City & Community Volume 10 Issue 3 (September 2011)


This study examines the relationship between gentrification and neighborhood crime rates by measuring the growth and geographic spread of one of gentrification’s most prominent symbols: coffee shops. The annual counts of neighbourhood coffee shops provide an on-the-ground measure of a particular form of economic development and changing consumption patterns that tap into central theoretical frames within the gentrification literature. Our analysis augments commonly used Census variables with the annual number of coffee shops in a neighbuorhood to assess the influence of gentrification on three-year homicide and street robbery counts in Chicago. Longitudinal Poisson regression models with neighbourhood fixed effects reveal that gentrification is a racialised process, in which the effect of gentrification on crime is different for White gentrifying neighbourhoods than for Black gentrifying neighbourhoods. An increasing number of coffee shops in a neighbourhood is associated with declining homicide rates for White, Hispanic, and Black neighbourhoods; however, an increasing number of coffee shops is associated with increasing street robberies in Black gentrifying neighbourhoods.

Unusually for a recent journal the full text of this article is available here. NOTE: It took me ages to load it!

Flood risk, vulnerability and environmental justice: …

Evidence and evaluation of inequality in a UK context

an article by Gordon Walker (Lancaster University) and Kate Burningham (University of Surrey) published in Critical Social Policy Volume 31 Number 2 (May 2011)


Flooding has only relatively recently been considered as an environmental justice issue. In this paper we focus on flooding as a distinct form of environmental risk and examine some of the key evidence and analysis that is needed to underpin an environmental justice framing of flood risk and flood impacts. We review and examine the UK situation and the body of existing research literature on flooding to fill out our understanding of the patterns of social inequality that exist in relation to both flood risk exposure and vulnerability to the diverse impacts of flooding. We then consider the various ways in which judgements might be made about the injustice or justice of these inequalities and the ways in which they are being sustained or responded to by current flood policy and practice. We conclude that there is both evidence of significant inequalities and grounds on which claims of injustice might be made, but that further work is needed to investigate each of these. The case for pursuing the framing of flooding as an environmental justice issue is also made.

Hazel’s comment:
And if you think about it the poor have always lived in the more vulnerable places – the rich man in his castle, the poor man at his gate. Or the rich man on the hill and the poor man in the meadows.

Do Organizations Learn When Employees Learn?

an article by Dr Richard Boateng (University of Ghana Business School) published in Development and Learning in Organizations Volume 25 Issue 6 (2011)


The purpose of this paper is to conceptualize the link between individual learning and organizational learning and offer guidelines to harness the individual capability of learning for organizational objectives.
This is a conceptual paper using arguments from the theory of meaning structures.
The author shows that, learning, whether organizational or individual, is about the construction and accessibility of meaning, and that such processes thrive in a culture which fosters collaborative team work.
Research limitations/implications
The theory presents a perspective of how organizational knowledge exists in a triad - private, accessible and collective – and the interrelationships to create organizational learning. These constructs can form the building blocks for future research.
Practical implications
The theory brings organizations closer to prioritizing and evaluating learning processes to ensure that they facilitate the accessibility of knowledge.
The theory opens a new insight into viewing organizational learning from the perspective of constructing and sharing meaning structures.

Hazel’s comment:
I have always maintained that organisations cannot learn – it is the individual members of the organisation, whether whole company or part thereof, who learn and may, thereby, facilitate a change in the behaviour of the organisation as a whole. Be that as it may Dr Boateng has written a fascinating piece about organisational knowledge and how it is acquired.

Is teenage motherhood contagious? …

Evidence from a Natural Experiment

A paper by Karin Monstad (University of Bergen), Carol Propper (University of Bristol, Imperial College London and CEPR) and Kjell G Salvanes (Norwegian School of Economics, CESifo, CEE and IZA) published by The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol (Ref 11/262) and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council


There is relatively little research on peer effects in teenage motherhood despite the fact that peer effects, and in particular social interaction within the family, are likely to be important. We estimate the impact of an elder sister’s teenage fertility on the teenage childbearing of their younger sister. To identify the peer effect we utilise an educational reform that impacted on the elder sister’s teenage fertility. Our main result is that, within families, teen births tend to be contagious and the effect is larger where siblings are close in age and for women from low-resource households.

Full paper (PDF 22pp)